The Psychology of Done – or – How to Not do Things

I work on a lot of projects – as do many creatives. I have the day job at Miniclip – and then in my spare time I am renovating my house, and making WordPress themes, playing video games, and even making video games.

About 6 months ago I announced Brush Ninja – and then I stopped working on it. I could argue all sorts of reasons about why. For instance I have been working on Isca (a new theme for, and I have been decorating my living room, and I have been playing this really cool video game (it’s a smartphone one that’s in development at Miniclip so I can’t say any more). But actually – my motivation has vanished.

I’m not sure why but I’ve noticed this pattern before in the projects I work on. I do loads of work behind the scenes and don’t tell anyone anything. As soon as I mention it on my blog, or even just tell a friend – I start work on the next thing. It’s like talking about the project publicly is a statement that I’m done.

Clearly the website isn’t done. In fact it only has a small handful of users. So I need to finish things off and make it fully public.

Shared Responsibility

I remember reading something about how when you share ideas you share the responsibility of the idea, and so any incentive to complete the idea dissipates. This doesn’t mean I won’t do these things eventually. However it does lessen the urgency, and so progress slows right down.

Positive Affirmation

This is particularly applicable when there’s little/ no feedback. If I don’t have people confirming that what I am doing is good or worthwhile, then I am even less likely to follow through.

Lack of Focus

The creatives curse. I have so many things I want to do that I have to focus on a few or I’ll never finish anything. As I said above – I like to make video games, and I have 2 of those that are mid development as well, and they’re likely to stay there for a while.

Brush Ninja

Brush Ninja is a perfect example of this. I started it last year, really excited to be trying something new. I created an animation editor and built a community website. I made a teaser video – and I did a tiny amount of publicity. Then I blogged about it – and started making WordPress themes instead.

Why did I stop?

I don’t know exactly!

Getting Started Again

I still think Brush Ninja has a lot of potential and I really want to finish it off. What I need to do is cut out the incomplete features (maybe adding a message saying they are planned instead) and get it into peoples hands. There’s nothing better than real feedback from real users to get motivated.

Of course there’s always a chance people won’t be interested and then I’ll have no positive affirmation and stop again – but at least I’ll have finished it.

Let me know what you think on Mastodon, or BlueSky (or Twitter X if you must).

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